Closed petition Make self-employed people eligible for statutory adoption pay

Ensuring statutory adoption pay is available to a self-employed parent in the same way that maternity allowance is available for self-employed new mums would promote an equal and fair society inclusive of all routes to parenthood.

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A parent taking statutory leave regardless of it being adoption or maternity should be both recognised and supported fairly. Expecting self-employed parents to take unpaid adoption leave whilst supporting their child during a critical transitional period is unfair. This current policy is not inclusive of adoptive families and to many, reads as an act of discrimination.
I wish the Government to introduce an Adoption Allowance comparable with the Maternity Allowance for the Self-Employed.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 21 March 2022

Watch the petition 'Make self-employed people eligible for statutory adoption pay' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 2 February 2022

The Government has no plans to extend adoption pay to self-employed adopters. Local Authorities can make discretionary payments to self-employed adopters who do not qualify for adoption pay.

The Government would like to emphasise how much it values people who come forward to take on the challenging but rewarding role of being an adoptive parent.

Maternity payments, such as Maternity Allowance, are designed to provide a measure of earnings replacement to help pregnant women take time off work in the later stages of pregnancy, and to prepare for and recover from childbirth, in the interests of their own health and wellbeing, and that of their baby. They are not intended to assist with the costs associated with a new child. For this reason, only birth mothers qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

The Government recognises that it is crucial to the success of an adoption placement that an adopter takes time off work to care for and bond with their child and that is why employed adoptive parents have broadly the same rights and protections as birth parents. Statutory Adoption Leave is a “day one” employment right - in line with Statutory Maternity Leave. Statutory Adoption Pay is enhanced in the first six weeks for eligible adoptive parents: qualifying adopters are entitled to 90% of their average earnings (with no upper limit) in this period – in line with Statutory Maternity Pay.

So far, the Government has focused on supporting employed adopters as they do not generally have the same level of flexibility over their work as self-employed adopters do. However, since 2010 we have taken a number of other, significant steps to equalise the state benefits provided to the employed and self-employed, including the introduction of the new State Pension which improves outcomes for many self-employed people.

Statutory adoption guidance also says that Local Authorities should consider making a payment - equivalent to Maternity Allowance - in cases where adopters do not qualify for any statutory payment because of their self-employment. This payment is discretionary and means-tested to ensure that resources are targeted at those adopters who need it most, as part of a package of post-adoption support.

Prospective adopters and the child or children that they intend to adopt are also entitled to an assessment of their family’s needs. This includes a whole host of support including discretionary means-tested financial support, advice, information and counselling, and support services.

Additionally, the Government already has provisions in place such as tax credits, child benefit and Universal Credit, which provide support with the cost of raising children.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Other parliamentary business

Share your experience of adopting with MPs

The Petitions Committee has scheduled a debate on a petition calling for statutory adoption pay for self-employed adoptive parents, which you have signed. The debate will be held on Monday 14 March. Elliot Colburn MP has been asked by the Committee to open the debate.

Ahead of the debate, Elliot would like to know more about your experiences of adopting a child, and how it affected, or is affecting, your ability to work as you would like to.

Share your experiences by completing this survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/VQ6DWN/

The survey will close at 9am on Tuesday 8 March.

All responses will be anonymous, however your comments will be shared with the Committee and may be quoted in the debate. A summary of all the responses received will also be published on the Petitions Committee website.

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

You can sign up to the UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference: https://learning.parliament.uk/en/your-uk-parliament-newsletter-sign-up-form/

Government responds to Petitions Committee report on the impact of covid-19 on new parents

The Petitions Committee has published the Government’s response to the Committee’s report on the ongoing impact of covid-19 on new parents.

The Committee's report was published in October 2021. Amongst its recommendations, it called on the Government to extend the financial support available to self-employed birth parents to self-employed adoptive parents.

In its response, the Government has said that while it recognises that financial concerns may limit the time away from work that some self-employed adopters can take, it is up to local authorities to provide support in these cases.

Read the Committee's report:
(HTML) https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5802/cmselect/cmpetitions/479/47902.htm
(PDF) https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7477/documents/78447/default/

Read the Government response:
(HTML) https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5802/cmselect/cmpetitions/1132/report.html
(PDF) https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/9080/documents/159252/default/

The Committee's report on the impact of covid-19 on new parents

The Committee's report, published in October 2021, highlighted the pandemic’s ongoing impact on new parents, one year on from the Committee's initial report on the issue. It called for the Government to publish a dedicated covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents.

Other key recommendations made in the report included calling on the Government to:

  • Provide additional funding for catch-up mental health support for new parents impacted by covid-19
  • Fund local authorities to arrange in-person visits to new parents by health visiting staff by the end of the year
  • Introduce stronger redundancy protections for new and expectant mothers as soon as possible
  • Commission a review into the affordability of childcare for parents and the levels of funding provided to childcare providers.

The Government's response

The Government’s response points to the £500 million announced in the 2021 Autumn Spending Review for early years services, including mental health services for new parents. However, the response rejects the Committee's call to publish a covid-19 recovery strategy for new parents.

The response also:

  • Fails to allocate funding specifically to deal with the backlog in mental health and health visiting services
  • Does not set a timeline for strengthening redundancy protections for new and expectant mothers
  • Rejects the call for an independent review into the funding and affordability of childcare.

Read more, including comment from Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/161509/governments-response-to-impact-of-covid19-on-new-parents-report-demonstrates-a-continued-lack-of-action-say-mps/

Next steps

The Petitions Committee has scheduled a debate on support for new adoptive parents, which was prompted by the petition you signed, ‘Make self-employed people eligible for statutory adoption pay’.

The debate will take place in Westminster Hall, at 6pm on Monday 14 March. You will be able to watch the debate here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tULfXKRq8zM

Find out more about Westminster Hall debates:
https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/westminster-hall-debates/

Debate rescheduled: Support for new adoptive parents

In light of the situation in Ukraine, the Petitions Committee has agreed to schedule an urgent debate on an e-petition about arrangements for Ukrainian refugees to enter the UK, to be held on Monday 14 March.

This means that the debate on the petition you signed, "Make self-employed people eligible for statutory adoption pay", has been rescheduled. The debate will now take place on Monday 21 March, at 6pm.

You'll still be able to watch the debate online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel on 21 March: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tULfXKRq8zM

The debate will take place in Westminster Hall. Find out more about Westminster Hall debates: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/westminster-hall-debates/

Support for new adoptive parents debated by MPs

On Monday 21 March, MPs debated an e-petition calling on the Government to make self-employed people eligible for statutory adoption pay, which you signed.

This debate was scheduled by the MPs on the Petitions Committee, and was held in Westminster Hall. The Committee asked Elliot Colburn MP to open the debate, and Lee Rowley MP, a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, responded for the Government.

Watch the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tULfXKRq8zM

Read the full transcript of the debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-03-21/debates/42C1D133-9CEF-482D-994F-5F971FFB8BC4/SupportForNewAdoptiveParents

Read House of Commons Library research on this issue: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cdp-2022-0050/

Petitioners' experiences of adopting

Ahead of the debate, the Committee asked petitioners about their experiences of adopting a child and the impact it has had on their working life. A summary of responses was shared with MPs, and Elliot Colburn referred to the survey's findings in his speech. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Read a summary of what petitioners told us [PDF]: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/107177/pdf/

Read a summary of what petitioners told us [HTML]: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/107177/html/

What is a Westminster Hall debate?

Westminster Hall is the second chamber of the House of Commons. Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local and national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Westminster Hall debates are general debates that do not end in a vote.

Find out more about Westminster Hall debates: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/westminster-hall-debates/

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

You can sign up to the UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference: https://learning.parliament.uk/en/your-uk-parliament-newsletter-sign-up-form/